MI Legislature Renews Protection Against Illegal Wine Shipments

When Michigan’s new fiscal year budget went into effect back on October first, one measure that was renewed is drawing the praise of the industry it protects, including many right here in Michigan’s Great Southwest.

The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association is applauding the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for renewing critical funding for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission in the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, which took effect on October 1st. Included in the MLCC’s budget is more than $302,000 to combat illegal wine shipments coming into Michigan from unlicensed out-of-state retailers. There’s also funding to hire more full-time employees, including one dedicated to licensing and enforcement.

Spencer Nevins is President of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. He says, “We applaud the Legislature and Gov. Whitmer for understanding the importance of continuing funding for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to support its crackdown on illegal wine shipments coming into Michigan,” and adds, “Our analysis shows more than 100,000 bottles of illegally shipped wine are flowing into Michigan every quarter, making this funding so vitally important.”

Last year, the association began compiling quarterly reports on illegal wine shipments coming into Michigan. A new law enacted in 2018 requires common carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, to submit reports showing how much wine is coming into Michigan and where it’s coming from. The beer and wine wholesales use those reports and excise tax information to compile their data.

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Data from the second and fourth quarters of 2018 showed more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months, and at least 300,000 of those bottles were wine illegally shipped from out-of-state retailers. Data from the first and third quarters of 2018 were unavailable. So far in 2019, nearly 130,000 bottles of wine have been illegally shipped into the state.

Nevins says, “We encourage the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to continue cracking down on bad actors who continue to thumb their nose at Michigan’s laws and regulations by knowingly shipping wine illegally,” and concludes, “Every bottle of wine illegally shipped into Michigan robs our state of much-needed tax revenue and hurts mom-and-pop retailers that give back to their communities and are proud to call Michigan home.”